Ajax opens European season with tie in Greece



Ajax has tied its game against PAOK 2-2 in Greece.  The Ajacieds performed well in the first half hour, and took a well-earned lead.  A small setback followed in which two goals against were scored, but Ajax set things straight in the second half.  Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored the 2-2 goal, meaning that Ajax can head into the return in a good position.

Mazraoui instead of Marin 
Despite its formidable CL season last year, Ajax will need to start from scratch again; in the qualifying rounds.  Coach Erik ten Hag started this new European adventure with one change compared to the tie at Vitesse (2-2).  Noussair Mazraoui started at midfield, instead of Razvan Marin.

Ajax takes early lead
From the opening whistle, Ajax had the upper hand.  This lively playing resulting in the opening goal after 10 minutes.  A curving free kick by Hakim Ziyech was sent in by Dimitris Giannoulis’ header past his own keeper: 0-1.

After fifteen minutes of play, PAOK was able to make a threatening play after Ajax lost possession.  Joel Veltman made a perfect tackle on the ball to stop the attacking Greek player.

After this, Ajax remained the attacking team, and came close to scoring the 0-2 goal, after a Greek player had touched a Ziyech shot.  This time, PAOK keeper Paschalakis was able to stop the shot.

Turning point
The team from Thessaloniki unexpectedly drew even after half an hour.  A clean pass was ticked in by Chuba Apkom: 1-1.  The goal came a a blow to Ajax, and the team fumbled for several minutes afterwards.

Seven minutes later, they even lost the lead.  Leo Matos scored the 2-1 goal on a free kick.  Shortly after, PAOK came close to making the game 3-1, but the ball was ticked wide.  The halftime whistle came as a relief.  Time for Ten Hag to take some measures.

Quick tying goal
Ajax set up a nice attack early in the second half, coming close to scoring the tying goal.  Tadic passed to Tagliafico, who then send a clean pass to Ziyech.  Thanks to a deliberate move by Donny van de Beek, Ajax’s number 22 stood free and clear.  The Moroccan’s shot went just wide.

In the 57th minute, Huntelaar came in for the injured Dolberg, just in time to score the tying goal.  PAOK defender Varela shot the bal lto the active striker, and the 2-2 score appeared on the scoreboard.

The Amsterdam team smelled blood and sent on the hunt.  First, it was Ziyech who came close to bringing the Amsterdam team into the lead with a hard shot. After that, Blind sent a brilliant cross pass to Tagliafico, who made a good pass to Huntelaar.  The striker took a good shot, but the Greek goalie make a great save.

In the end, the Ajacieds couldn’t get further than a 2-2 tie in the Toumba Stadium.  The important return takes place next week on Tuesday.

Score summary: 10. Giannoulis 0-1 (eigen doelpunt), 32. Apkom 1-1, 39. Matos 2-1, 57. Huntelaar 2-2.

Line-up Ajax: Onana; Veltman, Schuurs, Martinez, Tagliafico; Blind, Mazraoui (82. Marin), Van de Beek; Tadic, Dolberg (32. Huntelaar), Ziyech (82. Neres).

Score summary: 10. Giannoulis 0-1 (eigen doelpunt), 32. Apkom 1-1, 39. Matos 2-1, 57. Huntelaar 2-2.